For Earth Day 2014, Professor Witkowski’s Environmental Science class helped with the SEAS Club What the Waste?! campus waste audit. The goal for the waste audit was to weigh the trash from the previous day to gather data on how much trash and recyclables there are.

Through the waste audit, we ended up with a lot of data:

  • Total amount of trash and recycling from one day on campus = 171 lbs
  • Total amount of trash was 79 lbs or 46%
  • Total amount of recycling was 92 lbs or 54%

Our campus is doing great with recycling. Our 54% recycle rate is more than double the state recycling rate of 26%. Connecticut has set a goal to reach 58% by 2025, so we are already close to that. However, the trash included 66 lbs of recyclable or compostable materials (like paper towels, textiles, and food waste). If we could properly dispose of these it would reduce our trash to about 15% of everything collected, which would be amazing.

So when going through the trash, many beverages still had content in them. This raises the question how much of what we purchase goes to waste. Also while digging through the trash, a full roll of paper towels were found, as well as almost full rolls of toilet paper.

At the same time the audit was happening, we picked up trash around campus. When picking up trash around campus we found beer bottles, golf balls, plastic plates, plastic bags, and empty bags that once contained chips. We even found a make shift house near the woods that someone once lived in. We also collected 60 lbs of trash along the forest line on campus. The wind tends to blow trash around and it gets caught up along the edge of campus. It is the hope that these projects will become annual. This way the data compiled will be able to help the College come up with more ways to be environmentally friendly.

Blog post submitted by Mikaela Bosch, EVS*100 Intro to Environmental Science student